Competency A by hcj


									Rebecca King                                                                                    1 of 6
Spring 2009

                                           Competency A

Articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information

professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom

       Every profession has a foundation to base itself on and librarianship is no different. There

are core practices based around intellectual freedom that is commonly accepted in all types of

libraries. Librarians across the nation dedicate themselves, on some level, to the promotion of

intellectual freedom and adhere to the Code of Ethics (ALA, 2008) provided by the American

Library Association (ALA). The ethics, values and principles can be found within the Code of

Ethics and throughout the Website of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA, n.d.).

Ethics, values and principles all aid librarians in their decisions to help work toward the common

goal of intellectual freedom.

       The Library Bill of Rights (ALA, 1996) provided by the ALA is a path to achieving

intellectual freedom. Together, all six listed items create the definition for the term “intellectual


       1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information,

            and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should

            not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to

            their creation.

       2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on

            current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because

            of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
Rebecca King                                                                                   2 of 6
Spring 2009

       3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to

           provide information and enlightenment.

       4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting

           abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

       5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin,

           age, background, or views.

       6. Libraries, which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they

           serve, should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the

           beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

       ALA actively supports intellectual freedom. Throughout the policy statements released

by ALA, it can be seen that the ethics, values, and foundational principles are regarded as high

priority when it comes to influencing librarians and information professionals. These policy

statements are a wonderful resource and guide when it comes to librarianship.

       Ethics can be a tricky and taxing subject for community service leaders such as librarians.

Librarians need to be as arbitrary as possible when dealing with their community and the

distribution of information. The ALA’s Code of Ethics (2008) reinforces this by stating, “We

uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.” By

following this and similar tenets, librarians can uphold their dedication to intellectual freedom.

       Another guiding light for librarians is ALA’s Mission Statement. The Mission Statement

goes into great detail about the goals, priority areas, and the mission of the organization. Priority

Area C of the Mission Statement is the support and advocacy of intellectual freedom pointing out

values and principles surrounding librarians. “ALA will promote the protection of library

materials, personnel, and trustees from censorship; the defense of library personnel and trustees
Rebecca King                                                                                    3 of 6
Spring 2009

in support of intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights; and the education of library

personnel, trustees, and the general public to the importance of intellectual freedom (ALA,


       Librarians are not alone in their pursuit of intellectual freedom. Many resources are out

there to help support the information professional reach this goal. ALA, and their continuing

support of the First Amendment of the Constitution, is a perfect source for that information.

                                   Evidence of Competency A

       For this competency, I submit two items of evidence. The first item listed is a research

paper from LIBR 200 –Information and Society. The second item is a case study from LIBR 204

– Information Organizations and Management.

LIBR 200 – Roadblocks to information essay

       The requirement behind this research paper was to find on a barrier to information access

and to prepare a short paper on that issue. The report had to describe the different aspects of the

issue and present real evidence to support the narrative. For this paper, I chose to report on the

critical topic of Fee or Free: The Charging Dilemma on Information Access.

       This report proves my knowledge of this competency because the assignment shows my

understanding of the varying aspects of society. In the report, I point out the three dimensions of

society that this competency refers to Library Bill of Rights (ALA, n.d.). One of the fundamental

principles of public library service in the United States is to provide free access to information.

Libraries have faced the challenge of declining budgets and meeting their mission within the

restraints of limited revenue. But the debate over charging fees for library services continues to

grow because of the rising cost of information delivery as well as the mandate to deliver it.
Rebecca King                                                                                   4 of 6
Spring 2009

       American Library Association’s Economic Barriers to Information Access: An

Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights policy asserts, “charging fees for the use of library

collections, services, programs, or facilities that were purchased with public funds raises barriers

to access (ALA, 1993).” This report expanded my view on the varying dimensions of society. I

had to research extensively on literature that are apparent in the charging fees. This increased my

social sensitivity and made me aware of the different groups that libraries serve.

LIBR 204 – Case Study

       For a project in LIBR 204, I worked with a group to create a fictional case study entitled

Ethical Bombshell: A Case Study of Professional Ethics for Reference Librarians. While each

member of the group offered feedback and contributions to each component of the project, the

sections entitled "Core Values in Conflict" and "The Ethics Weighed," are particularly relevant

to this competency.

       In the case study we discuss a situation in which a man requests of the reference librarian

information about constructing explosive devices. The reference librarian seemed to confront a

situation in which her values were in conflict. She had to decide whether her commitment to

intellectual freedom outweighs the uneasiness she feels about potentially shirking her social

responsibility. She had to decide whether "the public good" means promoting freedom or

security. She had to ask if there is any middle ground on this issue. In the paper the question is

that "Do reference librarians have a social responsibility to restrict access to information that

may be used to harm others, such as how to build a bomb, in the name of preserving homeland

security?" The answer to this question is not easy but the paper offers decision-making

frameworks from the school of ethics that may be helpful to librarians.
Rebecca King                                                                                   5 of 6
Spring 2009

       This evidence is important because it represents a deeper analysis of the values and

ethical principles of the profession and it represents an application of these values in a situation

where it is not easy to come to a solution. By completing this report, I learned how important it is

to be skilled and to continue to develop skills throughout life. A librarian must be well skilled in

order to serve a community. I also learned how to list out my skills and explain how those skills

are important to the profession.


       This competency is extremely important for all librarians. As librarians, we need to be

able to provide the best possible service to our community. Following the ethics, values, and

principles listed by the ALA, we can successfully deliver information to those who need it.

       One professor and one class aided my understanding of this competency. Professor Steve

Tash taught my LIBR 200 class. He thoroughly went over how a librarian is important and what

librarians do for communities. It was through this class and this professor that I developed a

sense of professional and social responsibility as a librarian. "Intellectual Freedom is the right of

every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.

It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a

question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to

hold, receive and disseminate ideas (ALA Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A, n.d.).”

The case study assignment for LIBR 204 is truly representative of the values of the profession

and is guiding principles that may be used for ethical decision-making.
Rebecca King                                                                                6 of 6
Spring 2009


American Library Association. (n.d.). Intellectual freedom. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from

American Library Association. (n.d.). Intellectual freedom and censorship Q & A. Retrieved

       January 28, 2009, from

American Library Association. (1986). Mission, Priority Areas, Goals. Retrieved January 28,

       2009, from

American Library Association. (1993). Economic Barriers to Information Access: An

       Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from


American Library Association. (1996). Library bill of rights. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from


American Library Association. (2008). Code of ethics. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from

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